ACLU issues report on restoration of felons' voting rights

03/11/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Shortly after taking office in 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist made changes to the law making it easier for ex-felons to regain their voting rights. But according to the Florida ACLU, there are still severe impediments preventing thousands from getting the right to vote.

The new report by the ACLU of Florida released today says that many election office workers in every one of the state’s 67 counties don’t understand who is eligible to vote or the process through which former prisoners must go.

Muslima Lewis from the ACLU doesn’t blame those workers, but their superiors.

Florida is one of less than a handful of states that does not automatically regain the right to vote

Tiawan Daniels is a Florida resident who was arrested for selling cocaine when he was 16. He said it took him until last October, just weeks before the election, before he was finally granted his civil rights.

Crist made headlines back in April 2007, when he announced he was speeding up the process for some ex-felons to get their rights restored. The ACLU says nearly 135,000 had had their rights restored since then.

Other findings in the report: Fewer than half of those election workers surveyed knew whether a Florida resident with a conviction inanother state can register to vote in Florida. And not a single election official correctly ssaid that individuals with out-of-state convictions can apply for rights restoration in Florida if they reside in Florida and have not had their rights restored in their state of conviction.

Copies of the report were sent to the Executive Clemency Board, which consists of the governor, Attorney General Bill McCollum, CFO Alex Sink, and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. The ACLU also plans to send a copy to Secretary of State Kurt Browning.

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